Mark Edwards’s post at Religion in American History, in which he suggests that the Conference on Faith and History is the intellectual arm of the Religious Right, is getting some attention in the blogosphere. I did a post about it here. Thomas Kidd calls attention to the conversation here. And now Darryl Hart of Hillsdale College has jumped into the conversation.
Hart expresses his dissatisfaction with the Reformed/Kuyperian view of history that has long dominated the Conference on Faith and History. Here is a taste:
Mark Edwards, Spring Arbor University, has touched a nerve among historians who profess some version of Protestantism by commenting on the new book, Confessing History, edited by John Fea, Jay Green, and Eric Miller and suggesting that the Conference on Faith and History is the intellectual arm of the Religious Right. The historians involved in this discussion don’t mind Edwards reservations about Christian history but are not wild about associations between talk of doing Christian history and the project of evangelical politics (can you blame them?). Edwards explains (courtesy of John Fea):
To me, it concerned the larger issue of “integration of faith and learning” which seemed to underlay CFH at least at that time. For many historians, integrationist language is ALWAYS theocratic code and thus, to them, relative to the Religious Right.
This strikes me as eminently sensible since if you are going to invoke the Lordship of Christ (a Kuyperian trope that informed the Conference on Faith and History from its earliest days) when it comes to academic life, why not also appeal to Christ’s Lordship over the state (as the Religious Right has done in a variety of idioms)? In fact, I began to suspect the weakness of neo-Calvinism when I wrote a piece about the history of the Conference on Faith and History for History and the Christian Historian. I detected that objections to secular scholarship were not far removed from arguments against secular politics.
Hart develops these ideas further in his book A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State. After recently spending some time with secularists at Georgetown University, I am eager to return to Hart’s argument in this book. Stay tuned.